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  • Writer's picturePearl Lorentzen

Submit: don't let your writing gather 'virtual' dust

Cucumber or squash blossoms by a ladder. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

I took the above photo while taking pictures of a local greenhouse for a news article. However, it struck me as more artistic than journalistic. I had several other photos of which captured the practical aspect of the greenhouse. These had good colour and composition, so I saved this photo for something else.

This is something I also try to do with literary submissions. I make sure that I submit to the best places first. I look at the genre, style, and content of my writing, and look for the best fit in a literary journal or website that pays and is only asking for first serial rights.

Down the road, I may submit somewhere that doesn't pay, but in general I don't submit anywhere that is asking for complete rights.

I want the copyright to stay with me.

Conversely, someone once told me not to save your best lines and phrases for another work. It works better to use them as they come, and trust that you will think of as good or better ones for the next project.

The same thing goes for selecting journals to submit to. While a journal that I am interested in now may not be the best in the universe, it is the best one that I know of at the moment, so I submit to it.

A story or poem I write now, may not be the best one that I will ever write. However, if I have edited it and am reasonably happen with it, I usually submit it somewhere.

Sitting on an editors desk, my writing has a possibility of being accepted. It may also be rejected, but it is better than gathering metaphoric dust in my computer.

Most journals and websites don't accept previously published items. Often publication includes personal blogs, websites, social media, and self-publishing. With this in mind, I am always cautious before I post any writing.

Throughout life there are gems, like the above photos, moments when you capture something beautiful. When that happens, think about how you want to share it with others. Put some thought into how you want to do it and once you decide, allow yourself the grace to accept the results.

It is very easy to self-criticize, but dwelling on negative self-talk and regret make it difficult to write.

The other day I took some pictures of the moon which I really liked. I decided to include them with the fireworks video I'd taken the same day on the newspaper's website. However, it is possible that they would have worked better for a blog. It is a decision I regret.

No one lives free from regret, but being able to move past that regret is something which helps make life better. Likewise, to be published, a writer must learn to come to grips with rejection.

Submitting writing to a journal or website is a gamble, but unsubmitted works will not be published. When a story has collected several rejection letters, it is difficult to start one more edit. However, often the stories that make it to this stage are worth the effort, no matter how much effort it takes to turn the computer on to write.

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